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Thread: Hollinger's Forecast

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    Default Hollinger's Forecast

    He has a much rosier outlook for us than Stein does. I'm not sure if that's good or not.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/traini...rsForecast0809

    Hollinger's Team Forecast: Indiana Pacers

    By John Hollinger
    ESPN.com






    Updated: September 30, 2008



    Ron Hoskins/Getty Images
    It was a busy summer for the Pacers, who have the talent to make the playoffs.


    GO TO: 2007-08 Recap Offseason Moves Biggest Strength/Weakness Outlook



    2007-08 Recap

    Considering what the expectations were and how much time two of their best players missed, the Pacers had themselves a pretty good year. Of course, that's a bit of a tough sell when you go 36-46 and head back to the lottery, especially when the arena is half empty most nights. But this felt like the first cautious step in a turnaround. Indiana looked to be a franchise headed nowhere when the season started, as they had finished the previous season in a tailspin and sporting a capped-out roster largely devoid of young talent. Instead, they finished just a game out of the playoffs.

    HOLLINGER'S '07-08 STATS
    W-L: 36-46 (Pythagorean W-L: 36-46)
    Offensive Efficiency: 103.7 (18th)
    Defensive Efficiency: 104.6 (15th)
    Pace Factor: 100.1 (3rd)
    Highest PER: Mike Dunleavy (17.37)


    New coach Jim O'Brien played a big role by immediately invigorating the team's moribund offense. O'Brien ran a "passing game" system that had very little post play but a lot of cutting, passing and 3-point shooting; it might more effectively be described as suburban streetball. It was effective, though -- an offense that had been a 30th-ranked horror show a year earlier finished 18th in offensive efficiency with most of the same players, helping Indiana stay in playoff contention.
    Indy stayed in the hunt despite lengthy absences from both Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley. The two holdover starters from the 2004 conference finals team played just 81 games between them; O'Neal was traded after the season and Tinsley and O'Brien had a falling out that seems headed toward his imminent departure.
    Instead, the Pacers got career years from Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, who averaged 38.2 points between them, while O'Brien took advantage of their depth by playing the league's third-fastest pace and substituting heavily. Dunleavy's year was a particular surprise, as he seemed horribly miscast as a staring shooting guard; O'Brien's solution often was simply to not play him there, as a majority of his minutes came as a small forward in smallball lineups.
    Offensively, Indiana shot only 44.4 percent, but had a decent offense overall because so many of it shots were 3-pointers. The Pacers ranked third in the league in 3-point frequency, with 28.9 percent of their attempts coming from downtown; Granger and Dunleavy alone launched 10 a game.
    This is a staple of Jim O'Brien offenses -- he showed the same tendency in Boston and Philadelphia -- but that takes us to what I call the O'Brien paradox. You would think a coach that relished the 3-pointer so much at the offensive end would move heaven and earth trying to defend it, but actually his teams have always willingly conceded the 3-pointer in order to contest shots in the paint.
    O'Brien followed that trend again in Indiana, as his team ranked 29th in 3-point defense, barely beating out Washington for last. The one difference between this and his past stops is that they didn't allow 3s in quite the same quantity -- Indiana was barely above the league average in opponent 3-point attempts per field-goal attempt.
    What they did instead was foul like crazy. Indiana led the non-Utah portion of the NBA in opponent free-throw attempts per field-goal attempt (the Jazz lead the league by a mile every year), corresponding to 1.5 extra free-throw attempts per game for the Pacers' opponents.
    Between the fouls and 3-pointers, it meant the Pacers' 54.8 opponent TS% was just 21st in the league, even though they were in the upper half of the league in opponent shooting percentage. The only reason Indiana had a decent defense overall was because it rebounded well and forced an above-average number of turnovers -- in fact, they were fourth in fewest shot attempts allowed per possession (counting free-throw attempts as 0.44 field-goal attempts).
    The one datum that stood out was Indiana's ability to force dead-ball turnovers. Several Pacers excelled at taking charges, most notably O'Neal, Dunleavy and Jeff Foster, and as a result, Pacers' opponents committed dead-ball turnovers on 8.16 percent of their possessions, which was easily the highest total in the league (see chart).

    Opponent dead-ball turnovers*, 2007-08 leaders
    Team% of opp. possessions with dead-ball TO
    Indiana8.16
    Boston7.95
    Chicago7.84
    Golden State7.64
    Portland7.62
    League Average6.56
    *Turnovers where a steal was not credited



    But while the Pacers were a better team, there weren't as many people around to see them. Despite its historically rabid fan base Indiana hovered near the bottom of the league in attendance all year, as several recent player arrests and one Peyton Manning have combined to dim the allure of Pacer tickets. It's a shame because they played an exciting, up-tempo brand of basketball and have unloaded most of the sketchy characters, but it might take a little while for the arena to fill up again.









    Offseason Moves

    Click here to read Hollinger's breakdown of the Pacers' offseason, move by move








    http://insider.espn.go.com/nba/trainingcamp08/insider/columns/story?columnist=hollinger_john&page=PacersMoves0809


    Breaking down the Pacers' offseason moves

    By John Hollinger

    ESPN.com






    Jeremy - Subscriber since 06/15/2004


    Updated: September 30, 2008


    GO TO:
    Hollinger's 2008-09 Pacers Forecast



    Offseason Moves


    Team president Larry Bird had been relatively quiet since taking over for Donnie Walsh, but that all ended this past summer. A couple of bold moves repositioned Indiana for the future, calming much of the criticism he'd received for his previous inaction



    Traded Jermaine O'Neal to Toronto for
    T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and a first-round pick. O'Neal trade rumors had been bubbling for over a year and the Pacers finally pulled the trigger on a deal. I believe it will go down as a fantastic one. As much as I liked it from Toronto's end, I like it even better for the Pacers, who in one stroke get a point guard, a decent stopgap at center and several million dollars in cap space in 2009.




    The latter item might be the most important. While many teams are planning their big free-agent plunge for the summer of LeBron in 2010, the Pacers seem set to dip into the pool a year early, when the likes of
    Carlos Boozer, Hedo Turkoglu and Shawn Marion will be on the market -- additions that would turbo charge the rebuilding program.


    In the short term, the deal trades one injury-prone player for another, except that the Pacers' need is far greater at point guard than it is in the paint. And while O'Neal was miscast offensively in Indiana's system, Ford couldn't possibly be a better fit. He loves to push the tempo and should generate plenty of open looks for the Pacers' shooters. Obviously his history of spine problems is a concern, but he could have a huge year in this offense.



    Additionally, the Pacers get two bigs with expiring contracts who can contribute. Nesterovic quietly had a career year for the Raptors last season, and Baston has produced whenever he's been given minutes. All told, this was way too good a deal to pass up.



    Let
    David Harrison go, drafted Roy Hibbert. Harrison succeeded mostly in setting an obscene number of illegal screens; his spot in the rotation will be taken by another big center with potential, and hopefully a more productive one. Hibbert is huge at 7-2 and has a soft touch in the paint, but the Indy's pace may leave him in the dust at times because of his lack of speed.



    Let
    Ronald Murray and Kareem Rush go. No surprise here. The Pacers got what they could from them as role players a year ago, but the backcourt depth needed an upgrade.



    Drafted
    Jerryd Bayless; traded Bayless and Ike Diogu to Portland for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush. I like Bayless better than Rush, but Indy got quite a bit of value in return. Jack and Rush are immediate upgrades in the backcourt rotation, with Jack able to swing to the point and possibly push undersized Travis Diener out of the mix, and Rush squeezing his own brother out of a job as a shooter off the bench.



    What's nice about this move is that both players are strong defenders. Indiana badly needed some quality perimeter defenders to keep opposing guards out of the paint; they were savaged in this regard a year ago and now O'Neal isn't around to save their bacon at the rim. Losing Diogu is unfortunate, as he's a talented post scorer who may thrive in Portland, but he was also in a logjam for minutes here.



    Swore they'd trade Jamaal Tinsley. The Pacers have pledged that Tinsley won't be on the team this year, even removing the nameplate from his locker, but saying and doing are two different things. He can't stay healthy and has three years and $20 million left on his contract, so moving him is proving problematic. Indiana is trying like crazy to avoid buying him out and essentially paying him to play for Miami (or another guard-desperate team), but in a few weeks that's what it may come to.







    Biggest Strength: Long-range shooting

    Some of O'Brien's teams have shot the 3 a lot merely because their players liked shooting them (cough,
    Antoine Walker, cough). On this team, however, they shoot them because they can really hit them.
    Dunleavy and Granger each shot over 40 percent last year, while
    Troy Murphy just missed joining them at 39.8 percent. Diener is another long-range ace if you go by his career numbers, although he had an off year shooting last year, and third-year forward Shawne Williams should be a very good 3-point shooter as he adjusts to the NBA line. The same goes for Rush, who hit over 40 percent on 3-pointers at Kansas, and players like Jack aren't bad either -- that covers the entire perimeter rotation except Ford.
    And there's some addition by subtraction, too. Take away Tinsley's 28.4 percent on 3.6 attempts per game and the Pacers' average should only improve from last year's 37.4 percent, especially since Ford hardly ever shoots threes.
    Biggest Weakness: Post offense

    One reason the Pacers rely so much on their passing game offense is because they don't have anybody who can score on the blocks. Last year, O'Neal was theoretically the main post threat, but he missed half the year and besides, he's diminished dramatically as a low-post scorer -- mostly he settles for short-range jumpers these days. The only other good post player was little-used Diogu, and he's a Blazer now. Looking at Indiana's frontcourt, the only player who might be a solid post presence is Hibbert, and the rookie is unlikely to become a go-to option for Indiana anytime soon. The other frontcourt players include a defensive specialist who almost never shoots (Foster), an outside specialist who rarely scores inside (Murphy), and a mid-range shooter who is so soft he has one of the lowest free-throw rates for his size in league history (Nesterovic). In fact, the Pacers' best post player might turn out to be 6-3 Jarrett Jack, at least when he's playing the point and has a smaller man on his back.
    Another potential weapon is Granger, who is 6-9 and often has a shorter man guarding him but to this point has preferred facing opponents up from the perimeter. He could use more bulk and has a bad habit of doing Heisman Trophy stiff arms on the way to the basket, but he still should be a more productive post weapon than he's shown the past two seasons. With O'Neal's departure opening the block, he might see the rock there far more often.






    Outlook

    Nobody is talking about this team at all, but if Ford can stay upright for 65 games or so, the Pacers are going to surprise a lot of people. Indiana was a decent team a year ago, even with the injuries, and should be better this year thanks to the offseason facelift. Ford is potentially a 20-10 point guard who should provide plenty of opportunities for Granger, Dunleavy and Murphy to fire away from long range, while the frontcourt will survive the loss of O'Neal with a mix of Foster, Hibbert, Murphy and Nesterovic. Plus, the Pacers are deep. Rush, Jack, Murphy and Hibbert make for a strong second unit, while the end of the bench has useful talents like Baston, Diener, Williams and Marquis Daniels. The fact that one of these players won't even dress if everyone is healthy shows just how deep they go. And as fast as the Pacers play, they might all see action. Finally, remember that this analysis doesn't include whatever they might get in return for Tinsley, who presumably will bring back some kind of warm body if and when the Pacers eventually trade him.
    Obviously Ford's health is the key; I projected him to play three-quarters of a season; Foster, the other injury-prone Pacer, is also important given his defensive value and the fact that O'Neal is gone. But Indiana is deep enough to survive their likely absences as long as they aren't gone for too long, and the combination of Ford's pace and the torrid outside shooting is going to knock a lot of opponents on their heels.
    Between the trade for Ford and the cap space they have coming after the season, the Pacers seem ready for a bit of a rebirth. Emphasis on "a bit." No, they won't be reliving their glory days from earlier this decade, but it seems more likely than not that they'll return to the playoffs. And with any luck, that will be enough to get a few more fans back in Indy's seats.



    Prediction: 41-41, 3rd in Central Division, 7th in Eastern Conference
    "A man with no belly has no appetite for life."

    - Salman Rushdie

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Wow, it's nice to see someone say something nice.

    Yes, we had a decent team minus injuries last year, but we have hope at least. Something that we didn't before.

    I believe we will make the playoffs. Low seed, but I see us somewhere over .500.

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    Boom Baby! QuickRelease's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Would you say that Foster is injury prone?

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by QuickRelease View Post
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    Would you say that Foster is injury prone?
    Not sure, most big men get hurt and hurt bad. There have been times where we've been without him, but injury prone...no.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    I didn't realize that we fouled teams so much.

    Will the additions of Jack and Rush make any difference in this since they are better defenders at their position?

    or

    Should we simply expect for more of this to continue?
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Good read, thank you. Him and Stein see things completely differently, kinda makes you wonder what we're really capable of eh?

    I'm going BOLD.
    flip flop it from last year, 46-36 2nd in the Central.

    This is at best, an optimists dying wish but god I just want to see the Pacers win.
    Reggie Miller is a God. Period.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    I didn't realize that we fouled teams so much.

    Will the additions of Jack and Rush make any difference in this since they are better defenders at their position?

    It has to improve. JT's perimeter defense was pure 'matador' at times, which caused a lot of fouls as our interior folks reacted to someone cutting for a layup...and Diener's defense is not good. How much improvement depends on TJ, Jack et al.

    Nice analysis by Hollinger, I thought. Is his predicted result too optimistic? Hope not, but we'll see.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Good analysis, good read. Actually seeing the numbers related to some of my observations is informative.

    Edit: Went back to see what his end season Eastern Conference Standings would be, and posting for those that don't want to click every team.

    1. Boston 60-22
    2. Detroit 54-28
    3. Philadelphia 50-32
    4. Orlando 46-36
    5t. Toronto 47-35
    5t. Cleveland 47-35
    7. Indiana 41-41
    8. Charlotte 40-42
    9t. Miami 39-43
    9t. Chicago 39-43
    11. Washington 36-46
    12. Milwaukee 32-50
    13. Atlanta 31-51
    14. New York 28-54
    15. New Jersey 27-55

    Note: I don't like making my predictions until the end of the preseason, but I'm also not paid by ESPN.
    Last edited by maragin; 10-02-2008 at 02:43 AM. Reason: Added breakdown; edited Miami, Chicago

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Washington at 11 seems a little crazy to me. What have they done to drop so much? I understand the concern with Arenas, but they weren't that bad without him last season. I mean 10 games under .500? Worse than the Bobcats?

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    I thought that was a very fair, in-depth analysis. Actually made me optimistic.
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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    i like the read...usually hollinger is a stat dork that solely relies on his stupid rating system (P.E.R.) to compare players. I also will never forget him saying in a chat that T-Mac was far the greater player than Reggie...I tend to hold grudges. Hopefully rush can step in and be a stud, TJ will push the tempo and average as I suspect around 8 to 9 assists a game. Our team is heading in the right direction...and I love it

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    My thoughts are very similar to John's this year, but I was not with him at all last year, IIRC. Didn't he think we were something close to, if not the worst team in the league last year?

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Looks like the pacers need to buy a bigger back drop. The players are now taller than the back drop.....

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by themayhem87 View Post
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    i like the read...usually hollinger is a stat dork that solely relies on his stupid rating system (P.E.R.) to compare players. I also will never forget him saying in a chat that T-Mac was far the greater player than Reggie...I tend to hold grudges. Hopefully rush can step in and be a stud, TJ will push the tempo and average as I suspect around 8 to 9 assists a game. Our team is heading in the right direction...and I love it

    Wow, I really do like these comments.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Here is the one thing that scares me, we always LOOK like we have a lot of depth heading into the season, however that hasn't always come to fruition. Hopefully, our key starts stay healthy which will allow us to have a much more productive bench.

    Consistency is one of the biggest keys in the NBA.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by Hollinger, a huge dumass
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    1. Boston 60-22
    2. Detroit 54-28
    3. Philadelphia 50-32
    4. Orlando 46-36
    5t. Toronto 47-35
    5t. Cleveland 47-35
    7. Indiana 41-41
    8. Charlotte 40-42
    9t. Miami 39-49
    9t. Chicago 39-49
    11. Washington 36-46
    12. Milwaukee 32-50
    13. Atlanta 31-51
    14. New York 28-54
    15. New Jersey 27-55
    really you guys AND Charlotte are gonna make the playoffs over us?
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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by Indy View Post
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    Here is the one thing that scares me, we always LOOK like we have a lot of depth heading into the season, however that hasn't always come to fruition. Hopefully, our key starts stay healthy which will allow us to have a much more productive bench.

    Consistency is one of the biggest keys in the NBA.
    I think we certainly have depth. We've had too much front court and not enough backcourt since the Golden State trade, and now we're finally getting back to some balance.

    Ford/Jack/Diener instead of Murray/Diener/Owens

    Granger/Rush/Daniels instead of Granger/Daniels/Rush

    Dunleavy/Williams/Graham is the same

    Murphy/Foster/Croshere or Baston or McRoberts instead of Murphy/Diogu

    Nesterovic/Hibbert instead of Foster/Harrison

    It's not perfect, but it's a lot better IMO.

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    Talking Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by Robertmto View Post
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    really you guys AND Charlotte are gonna make the playoffs over us?
    The name is *doo-mahss*

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks View Post
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    Ford/Jack/Diener instead of Murray/Diener/Owens

    Granger/Rush/Daniels instead of Granger/Daniels/Rush

    Dunleavy/Williams/Graham is the same

    Murphy/Foster/Croshere or Baston or McRoberts instead of Murphy/Diogu

    Nesterovic/Hibbert instead of Foster/Harrison

    It's not perfect, but it's a lot better IMO.
    I like the perspective you put that in. I want to draw attention to this (your) post. That is such a better roster I don't see any other option than to be optimistic
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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Now granted, O'Neal and Tinsley did play during last season (although O'Neal never practiced), but for a big stretch at the end of the year, that was all we had, and we didn't look like total crap. I'm excited because of the improvements to THAT team.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by CableKC View Post
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    I didn't realize that we fouled teams so much.
    Really? That was like the theme of last season. Its all Quinn Buckner ever talked about.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    I'm suprised for the love by a National guy. Usually those types just look for the biggest name on the team and don't think about the big picture.

    This is the start of what people from Indiana recognize as basketball. A team. Props to Bird, I get what he's trying to do.

    Now it just may turn out to be a team with not nearly enough talent and not enough athleticism.

    Altough it could turn into the whole "whole is better than the sum of it's parts" deal.

    Props to Hollinger for digging a little deeper.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac View Post
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    Really? That was like the theme of last season. Its all Quinn Buckner ever talked about.
    Unfortunately, I don't get to watch or listen to too many games being out of state, so I had not clue. Most of what I read from the games is from the PD Post-Game threads.

    But if you guys mentioned it more often in the Post Game threads......then maybe I would know about it.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by Hicks View Post
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    Now granted, O'Neal and Tinsley did play during last season (although O'Neal never practiced), but for a big stretch at the end of the year, that was all we had, and we didn't look like total crap. I'm excited because of the improvements to THAT team.
    Exactly.....this has been my thought ever since this trade. The majority of what we saw from this team without Tinsley+JONeal ( which I pretty much ignored ) is what I expect to see this season except that I see this year's lineup pretty much as last season's roster on steroids.

    A 8-9 man rotation of:

    Ford/Dunleavy/Granger/Murphy/Rasho/Jack/Foster with some combination of Marquis/Hibbert/Rush/Diener filling out the rotation

    is WAAAAYYYYY better then

    Diener/Dunelavy/Granger/Murphy/Foster/Marquis/Murray with some combination of Rush/Harrison fillling out the rotation

    As Hollinger said....we have a deep rotation with depth that would cover us with any potential injuries.
    Ash from Army of Darkness: Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun.

    This is David West, he is the Honey Badger, West just doesn't give a *****....he's pretty bad *ss cuz he has no regard for any other Player or Team whatsoever.

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    Default Re: Hollinger's Forecast

    Quote Originally Posted by Speed View Post
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    I'm suprised for the love by a National guy. Usually those types just look for the biggest name on the team and don't think about the big picture.

    This is the start of what people from Indiana recognize as basketball. A team. Props to Bird, I get what he's trying to do.
    I do too. I just think its going to take a while for Rush/ Hibbert/ Granger/ TBD and TBD to gel. Like at least until we figure out which PG we can rely on (if either) and who is going to play PF next season, and whether Dunleavy and Murphy are willing to go back to the bench but still make major contributions.

    And Hibbert will have the traditional big-man rookie foul difficulties to work through.

    And there remains a risk that Brandon plays more like JaRon and Kareem than the leader/ winner he showed at Kansas.

    And we've still got to get rid of Williams and Tinsley and Daniels and package Foster and perhaps Rasho or Dunleavy to get somebody to take them.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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